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By David Brunnstrom and Greg Torode WASHINGTON/HONGKONG (Reuters) - China has denied a request for a U.S. carrier strike group led by the USS John C. Stennis to visit to Hong Kong, the U.S. Defense Department said on Friday, amid heightened tensions over China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. A Pentagon spokesman, Commander Bill Urban, said a U.S. warship, the USS Blue Ridge, was currently in Hong Kong on a port visit and the United States expected that to continue.
A total of 33 lions rescued from abuse in Peruvian and Colombian circuses will be taken by plane on Friday to South Africa, in what campaigners are calling the largest-ever airlift of big cats. The lions, with names such as Zeus and Shakira, were freed after the use of wild animals in circuses was outlawed in Peru in 2011 and Colombia in 2013. "It's truly wonderful that these lions, after a lifetime of suffering and abuse in circuses, are going home to Africa," said the president of ADI, Jan Creamer.